As we step into a new year, one particular piece of news making waves in our country is the merging of three premier institutions in the film industry. When the Central Government announced this decision early last year, there was widespread opposition to this merging. On the last day of 2022, despite countrywide protests, the decision came to fruition when the IB (Ministry of Information and Broadcast) merged the Film Division of India(FD:1948), National Film Archive of India(NFAI: 1964), and the Directorate of Film Festivals(DFF:1973) and brought it under the umbrella of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
This decision entails the closure of three publicly funded, owned and managed institutions that existed to preserve, encourage and nurture Indian film heritage and culture and bring them under NFDC, which as of now, is a corporation. The Central Government has issued a statement stating that “This new move will help converge the activities of these institutions and pool resources for better coordination so as to ensure synergy and efficiency in achieving the declared mandate of the bodies.”
Other than political bureaucrats, none of the primary stakeholders such as the filmmakers, historians, scholars, or film-related institutions were consulted before implementing this decision. While the Central Government has given its reasoning behind the merger decision, there are many filmmakers, scholars, and writers who have opposed it. They said that though all three institutions are related to ‘film’, they involve totally diverse professional skills, technical knowledge, and administrative setup. Merging them all into one monolithic organization doesn't seem to be a wise move and could hamper the fulfillment of the basic objectives of these organizations.
Twitter exploded on the 31st of December, 2022 when eminent Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap shared on social media that it was a “Black Day for Indian Cinema”, following the decision to merge the three key film institutions and ostensibly depriving them of their autonomy. There are people from both sides of the debate. While some vehemently agreed with Kashyap’s sentiments driving the idea that such a decision is a death knell for Indian filmmakers’ creative freedom, there were some on the other spectrum of the debate arguing that the new move is a right step towards centralization, which will create a smoother operational workflow and more monetization of Indian films.